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A definitely-not-US-market 1979 Raleigh Superbe (3-speed content)

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A definitely-not-US-market 1979 Raleigh Superbe (3-speed content)

Old 01-22-22, 04:52 PM
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A definitely-not-US-market 1979 Raleigh Superbe (3-speed content)

Apologies if you were expecting the gold, Japanese chromevelato road bike.



I mentioned this bike in the 3-speed thread a few weeks ago, but was finally able to get some good pictures of it. Long story short, I saw it about 7-8 years ago, parked in a neighborhood. I chatted briefly with the owner and never saw it again until it popped up at the local bike shop a few weeks back. My memory had told me - incorrectly - that it was one of those UK 1982+ Superbes that have a completely redesigned frameset to the original Sports, but it isn't - it's a conventional TI-era frame as we know it from the late 1960's all the way up to 1981/2 here in the States.

I wasn't able to see it from the side until now, and so initially theorized it was a pre-1982 EU-market Raleigh Royal Roadster - given that a black rod-brake, EA3 Sports-based bicycle of that description exists in the 1980's French catalogs (though in black).

To my surprise, it's simply badged a Superbe. Hub date is 1979 / 6, and a look at the 1981 Raleigh UK catalog confirms the model's original market.

For the record, the UK lineup was a lot more diverse and changed quite a bit from year to year.
1979 lineup was Esquire / Esprit / Misty / Caprice / Estelle / Merlin / Transit / Traveller / Campus / Superbe Tourist / Roadster.
By '81 it changed to Superbe / Roadster / Transit / Traveller / Cameo / Caprice / Esquire.

Each of these were variations of the Sports on EA3 wheels and some with Sprite-style fenders and conventional fork crowns, though traditional fenders and rod brakes were used on the Superbe and Roadster models.

Not much has been modified except the lighting system. Chaincase fastens similar to the 1950's bikes, but the bracket is not brazed (spot welded?) to the chaincase, and the chaincase halves are assembled with a vertical pinch, not a horizontal brazed line.

Enjoy the pictures:



















If anything, the UK lineup was extremely diverse in comparison to what we were getting in the States at the same time.

More pictures in the next post.

-Kurt
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Old 01-22-22, 04:55 PM
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One of my favorite details about the late UK Superbe model is that they didn't use Bronze Green on it. While it's a bit brighter in hue, it's obvious that Raleigh made this as a direct homage to the 1950's Superbe models. It's basically a replica of a Dawn Superbe Tourist.













-Kurt
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Old 01-23-22, 12:47 PM
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Help me out here because I don't get it. What's the appeal?

I bet it weighs 50 pounds. I've heard those rod brakes function poorly.
It has all sorts of sheet metal brackets that are clamped to the tubing and rusting away from day #1.
It appears to be missing two pieces of the chain case.
I'll go so far as to say it is a rust bucket. This last comment is an exaggeration because frame isn't too bad but everything else is in very bad shape; so bad, the plating is completely gone.

When I've ridden these bikes, they always seemed "dead" (sucking the energy from your legs, return nothing for the effort).

Is this just historical interest, or what?
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Old 01-23-22, 03:43 PM
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Bad Lag different strokes for different folks. Kurt likes Raleighs. You are not required to feel the same. No need to be so derogatory.
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Old 01-23-22, 04:05 PM
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I also like to ride a Sports for shorter errands. Sit up, look around, smell the coffee. My maxim is the earlier the 3 speed, the better it rides.
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Old 01-23-22, 04:10 PM
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They're iconic and made for a certain kind of riding. They also made them for about a century with very little significant change. There's something cool about that.
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Old 01-23-22, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
Help me out here because I don't get it. What's the appeal?
Seeing that we have an 855-page, 26,000-post thread here all "for the love of English 3 speeds," and that you've been here at C&V for so long, and must have wound up reading another thread on them...well, wouldn't you say that bringing these nitpicks up in this specific thread is on the verge of trolling?

But for those who want to know: It's a UK-market version of Raleigh's legendary, internally-geared commuter bike. It's interesting because - unlike the US models at the time - this one specifically harkens back to the 1950's Dawn Superbe Tourist. It has a dark green finish that's basically a copy of the 1950's color - not that metallic drizzle known as "Bronze Green" - a chaincase, a visibly better build quality, and that finish is executed much nicer than any Sports of the 1980's.

Now, in @Bad Lag's defense, rod brakes often feel grabby and are entirely dependent on how spot-on your rims are trued and how accurate the surface of your rim is (I've owned enough Raleigh Westricks to know that this answer is "not likely"). Modern Dutch offerings in aluminum may be far superior.

As for a Sports or any Raleigh 3-speed feeling "dead" - well, anything with steel rims will feel dead. Throw a pair of aluminum rims on these and some lighter components, and they wake up like a nicely built Grand Prix. It's gaspipe, but good gaspipe.

-Kurt
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Old 01-23-22, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
Bad Lag different strokes for different folks. Kurt likes Raleighs. You are not required to feel the same. No need to be so derogatory.
I'm not being derogatory. I was listing the issues I see with the bike and wanting someone to address them or at least some of them.

I think cudak888 responded to the brakes issue and how to fix it.

Also, I agree with the nlerner, there is something cool about a 100 year old design,... it's very C&V.

Alternatively, I could have said, "I don't like these bikes." Then you'd have to ask, "Well, what don't you like about them?" Then,in the end, I'd have lit them.

So, you see, I just cut to chase, went to the bottom line.

Before you get too upset with my frank style, I can tell you I have a bike which is styled after this exact style of bike. It is an homage to English 3 speeds but it's light in weight, has a Brooks saddle and has an 8 speed Alfine IGH. Mine is even black.

Trolling? No, discussing.

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Old 01-23-22, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh View Post
Bad Lag different strokes for different folks. Kurt likes Raleighs. You are not required to feel the same. No need to be so derogatory.
Thanks for the kind defense, Bob.

Originally Posted by clubman View Post
I also like to ride a Sports for shorter errands. Sit up, look around, smell the coffee. My maxim is the earlier the 3 speed, the better it rides.
I'd even go so far as to say that a properly-set-up, modernized Sports - North Roads and all - can do whatever city riding a drop bar commuter can do.

Unless one lives in a perennially windy location, there's absolutely no reason to default to drop bars at all times. If I expect 80% of a ride to be without wind to deal with, why do I want to subject myself to drop bars for only 20% in the first place? I'd rather run the North Roads and assume a Monty Pythonesque aero tuckfor the remaining 20%. Anyone who has the chutzpa to verbally call this out as a violation to the Cognoscenti of Stiff Lower Noses shall earn a frame pump through their Zipp wheels.

Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
They're iconic and made for a certain kind of riding. They also made them for about a century with very little significant change. There's something cool about that.
They're the best known and most loved city bicycle of the last 80+ years. The only other bike that may have tenure over it are the older slack-angle 28" machines, given that Raleigh of Denmark still has Taiwanese plants churning them out - and with proper drum brakes too.

-Kurt
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Old 01-23-22, 07:24 PM
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P.S.: I thought I'd qualify a few things in regards to my earlier comments about build quality. Compare the finish of the paint of the 1979 Superbe (UK-market) with my 1980 Sports (US-market). Both Nottingham production. I think it's clear who was given the short end of the stick.





Also, as a measure of comparison, here's my 1950 Superbe Sports Tourist (not a Superbe Dawn Tourist, so cable brakes instead of rod brakes) side-by-side with the '79 - the homage is obvious.






-Kurt
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Old 01-23-22, 07:29 PM
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Is the chainring supposed to be exposed like that? On the one hand, it appears everything is so very well covered that one may assume the chain ring should be as well. But on the other hand, I love those herons on old Raleigh chain rings so I can see why they may be open.

Thanks for sharing these photos with C&V by the way.

Edit: Nevermind I just saw the photo in the later post with one covered.
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Old 01-23-22, 07:40 PM
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I like the paint color on this and it does look very much like the 50s version. Hopefully it’s durable, I know the 50’s Raleighs had incredibly durable paint.

That popular English 3 speed thread has long held my fascination. Unfortunately, I live in a second floor apartment with a narrow and steep staircase and I fear I’d struggle to get one of these up and down. If I ever have a garage or shed……so many bikes, so little space.

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Old 01-23-22, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Pcampeau View Post
I like the paint color on this and it does look very much like the 50s version. Hopefully it’s durable, I know on the 50s Raleighs had incredibly durable paint.

That popular English 3 speed thread has long held my fascination. Unfortunately, I live in a second floor apartment with a narrow and steep staircase and I fear I’d struggle to get one of these up and down. If I ever have a garage or shed……so many bikes, so little space.
The black enamel is durable. The green, I believe, is applied over the black enamel (@kohl57 would be able to clarify the specifics and whether my memory is butchering it), but it's a lot thinner and easier to polish through, so it isn't as resilient. As such, the Superbe green also doesn't polish to the same luster, but can still present beautifully. This is not so on chaincases, which - in my experience - have a really thick finish if in green, and can be polished out to a high shine.

The 1979 Superbe green looks as if it's a thick - but not globulous - application of a single color without a black base. It may be a rare case where the 1970's finish might be more durable than it's classic counterpart, though it still looks as if it scratches easily.

-Kurt
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Old 01-24-22, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
I'm not being derroogatory. I was listing the issues I see with the bike and wanting someone to address them or at least some of them....

Alternatively, I could have said, "I don't like these bikes." Then you'd have to ask, "Well, what don't you like about them?" Then,in the end, I'd have lit them....

So, you see, I just cut to chase, went to the bottom line....

Trolling? No, discussing.
I'm so sorry if I didn't pick up on the fact you were "discussing" and not being critical or "derogatory."

I just couldn't help noticing how Kurt's original intent was to simply point out the differences in build quality, paint, features, etc., between a UK market Raleigh and a US market Raleigh manufactured approximately the same year.

But your initial response on the other hand was to focus on the negatives of the pictured bike, i.e.
Help me out here because I don't get it. What's the appeal?

I bet it weighs 50 pounds. I've heard those rod brakes function poorly.
It has all sorts of sheet metal brackets that are clamped to the tubing and rusting away from day #1.
It appears to be missing two pieces of the chain case.
I'll go so far as to say it is a rust bucket. This last comment is an exaggeration because frame isn't too bad but everything else is in very bad shape; so bad, the plating is completely gone.

When I've ridden these bikes, they always seemed "dead" (sucking the energy from your legs, return nothing for the effort).
Yes, your response leading to further discussion, IMO, could have been more civil, and again IMO, should have sounded less "trolling" (your words, not mine).

My humble suggestion is to delete your first post and start again. If you do, I'll be glad to delete my responses.
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Old 01-24-22, 08:54 AM
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Cool bike, Kurt.

The differences in finish between markets is interesting. I wonder if such was the case with other brands.
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Old 01-24-22, 10:06 AM
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Consider it the Model T of bicycles. They were of a time when a great deal of the bike world rode them and thought they were the best combination of function/use there was. Yes, we've come a long ways, but Model Ts, Bi-planes and bikes such as these are still cool.
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Old 01-24-22, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by since6 View Post
Consider it the Model T of bicycles. They were of a time when a great deal of the bike world rode them and thought they were the best combination of function/use there was. Yes, we've come a long ways, but Model Ts, Bi-planes and bikes such as these are still cool.
I'd call them the Volvo 240. Model-T's were primitive, like the Macmillan bike from 1839.


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Old 01-24-22, 03:12 PM
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No, the Mcmillan is TOO futuristic to be a Model-T, going down hill feet off pedals you are in a Superman flight profile, Ultra aerodynamic.
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Old 01-24-22, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by clubman View Post
I'd call them the Volvo 240. Model-T's were primitive, like the Macmillan bike from 1839.
240 is too far of a leap though - and there was the 140 before that.

The right corollary would have be something built for many years, virtually unchanged.

The Land Rover Series 1, 2, 3, 90/110, and Defender would be a great parallel, especially as Rover can be traced back to this:



They're also dead-riding, poorly functioning, and equipped with an ineffective rod-actuated spoon brake, and most of them are rust buckets, or in the very least, pitted. Guess they belongs in a junkyard too. /s

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Old 01-24-22, 05:42 PM
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For us Yanks in 1979 the Roadster sent to us looked like this.

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Old 01-24-22, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by 3speedslow View Post
For us Yanks in 1979 the Roadster sent to us looked like this.
That's not a Sports. It's a Japanese made Raleigh "3 Speed," and is basically a Rampar model (and really just a Shimano 333 away from being a Free Spirit Brittany - not that they're bad bikes at all).

The Sports remained a Nottingham product until 1981 here in the States.

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Old 01-24-22, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
The right corollary would have be something built for many years, virtually unchanged.


-Kurt
This.

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Old 01-24-22, 05:59 PM
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Now I’m confused... it’s a Raleigh with a SA3 speed hub with the model name Roadster. I don’t call it a Sport and know it’s from the Asian market.

Did Raleigh have two separate lines of Roadsters to sell?
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Old 01-24-22, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by clubman View Post
This.
Considering that it was post-war UK rebuilding efforts that got that started, and that production ended in a different country than when they started...I'd say the Type 1 is closer to the (wait for it) DL1.

What do you think? Fun comparison by model name alone.

Originally Posted by 3speedslow View Post
Now I’m confused... it’s a Raleigh with a SA3 speed hub with the model name Roadster. I don’t call it a Sport and know it’s from the Asian market.

Did Raleigh have two separate lines of Roadsters to sell?
Raleigh most certainly did some weird things with it's product line during the early 1980's. Here's a Rampar Roadster for comparison. Step through frame, same thing, shown in the 1981 catalog. Raleigh probably realized they were more likely to sell as Raleighs.






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Old 01-25-22, 12:51 AM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
The right corollary would have be something built for many years, virtually unchanged.
Especially if you consider the millions and millions of copies made in China, India, etc. over the years.
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